New Balance Rejects Neo-Nazi Support After Trump Comments

A blog named them 'the official shoes of white people.'

New Balance is rejecting an unwelcome endorsement this week after a neo-Nazi blogger called the company’s sneakers “the official shoes of white people.”

The founder of a white supremacist website appeared to be pleased with the Brighton-based sports apparel company following optimistic comments about Republican President-Elect Donald Trump from one of its executives. The founder of the site “Daily Stormer” urged supporters to buy and wear New Balance sneakers in a post this weekend, which was picked up by the Globe.

No thanks, New Balance said tonight in a statement.

New Balance does not tolerate bigotry or hate in any form.  As a 110-year old company with five factories in the U.S. and thousands of employees worldwide from all races, genders, cultures and sexual orientations – New Balance is a values-driven organization and culture that believes in humanity, integrity, community and mutual respect for people around the world.  One of our officials was recently asked to comment on a trade policy that was taken out of context.  We have been and will always remain committed to manufacturing in the United States.

The endorsement came after New Balance’s vice president of public affairs, Matt LeBretton, said in an interview that he believed “things are going to move in the right direction” under a Trump presidency. The statements, which appeared to be pro-Trump, prompted backlash. Some people even burned their New Balance shoes in protest.

The company later sought to clarify those comments, saying LeBretton was reflecting a bipartisan stance on trade—New Balance makes shoes in the U.S. and has been critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal for its possible impact on its factories. LeBretton would have said the same things about Democrats Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders if either had been elected president, New Balance says.

But the ne0-Nazi blogger believed New Balance’s stance on Trump was cause for celebration, or at least that’s what he said on his site.

“It’s time to get on-board with New Balance now. Their brave act has just made them the official brand of the Trump Revolution,” reads the blog post. “New Balance is making a gesture to support White people and to support US manufacturing. We need to support that.”

Trump has attracted the adoration of the white nationalists around the country for policies and rhetoric that target ethnic and religious minorities.

The Republican faced criticism for not disavowing his most racially motivated supporters promptly enough or in explicit enough terms, fueling speculation that he did not want to turn that contingent of voters against him. And now, one of Trump’s first picks for his leadership team is Steve Bannon, the former head of the white nationalist, alt-right website Breitbart, who helped run Trump’s general election campaign. Far-right groups are interpreting Bannon’s upcoming role in the White House as more evidence Trump is committed to representing their interests.